ADDRESS BY THE PRESIDENT OF INDIA ON THE
EVE OF THE REPUBLIC DAY OF INDIA 2016
New Delhi: Jan 25, 2016
My Fellow Citizens:
1. On the eve of the sixty-seventh Republic Day of our nation,I extend warm greetings to all of you in India and abroad. I convey my specialgreetings to members of our Armed Forces, Para-military Forces and Internal SecurityForces. I pay my tribute to the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrificeof their lives in defending India’s territorial integrity and in upholding the ruleof law.
2. On twenty-sixth January 1950, our Republic was born. On thisday, we gave ourselves the Constitution of India. This day saw the culminationof heroic struggle of an extraordinary generation of leaders who overcamecolonialism to establish the world’s largest democracy. They pulled togetherIndia’s amazing diversity to build national unity, which has brought us so far.The enduring democratic institutions they established have given us thegift of continuity on the path of progress. India today is a rising power, acountry fast emerging as a global leader in science, technology, innovation andstart-ups, and whose economic success is the envy of the world.
3. The year 2015 has been a year of challenges. During thisyear, the global economy remained subdued. Unpredictability ruled the commoditymarkets. Uncertainty marked the institutional responses. In such troubledenvironment, no one nation could be an oasis of growth. India’s economy also hadto face the blowback. Weak investor sentiments led to withdrawal of funds fromemerging markets including India putting pressure on the Indian rupee. Ourexports suffered. Our manufacturing sector is yet to recover fully.
4. In 2015, we were also denied the bounty of nature. Whilelarge parts of India were affected by severe drought, other areas reeled under devastatingfloods. Unusual weather conditions impacted our agricultural production. Ruralemployment and income levels suffered.
5. We can call out these challenges because we are aware ofthem. There is a great virtue in acknowledging a problem and resolving to addressit. India is building and implementing strategies to solve these problems. Thisyear, with an estimated growth rate of 7.3 percent, India is poised to becomethe fastest growing large economy. Contraction in global oil prices has helpedmaintain external sector stability and control domestic prices. Despiteoccasional setbacks, industrial performance this year has been strong.
6. Aadhaar, with its present reach of 96 crorepeople, is helping in direct transfer of benefits, plugging leakages andimproving transparency. Over 19 crore bank accounts opened under the PradhanMantri Jan Dhan Yojana is the single largest exercise in the world atfinancial inclusion. The Saansad Adarsh Gram Yojana aims to create modelvillages. The Digital India programme is an effort to bridge the digitaldivide. The Pradhan Mantri Fasal Bima Yojana targets farmer’s welfare. Increasedspending on programmes like MGNREGA is aimed at enhancing employment generationto rejuvenate the rural economy.
7. The Make-in-India campaign will boost manufacturingby facilitating easy conduct of business and improving competitiveness ofdomestic industry. The Start-up India programme will foster innovationand encourage new-age entrepreneurship. The National Skill Development Missionenvisages skilling 300 million youth by 2022.
8. There will be, amongst us, occasional doubters and baiters.Let us continue to complain; to demand; to rebel. This too is a virtue ofdemocracy. But let us also applaud what our democracy has achieved. Withinvestments in infrastructure, manufacturing, health, education, science andtechnology, we are positioning ourselves well for achieving a higher growthrate which will in the next ten to fifteen years help us eliminate poverty.
9. Reverence for the past is one of the essential ingredientsof nationalism. Our finest inheritance, the institutions of democracy, ensureto all citizens justice, equality, and gender and economic equity. When griminstances of violence hit at these established values which are at the core ofour nationhood, it is time to take note. We must guard ourselves against theforces of violence, intolerance and unreason.
10. For revitalizing the forces of growth, we need reforms and progressivelegislation. It is the bounden duty of the law makers to ensure that suchlegislation is enacted after due discussion and debate. A spirit ofaccommodation, cooperation and consensus-building should be the preferred modeof decision-making. Delays in decision-making and implementation can only harmthe process of development.
11. Peace is the primary objective of a rational consciousnessas well as our moral universe. It is the foundation of civilization and anecessity for economic progress. And yet, we have never been able to answer asimple question: why does peace remain so elusive? Why has peace been so muchmore difficult to attain than degenerate conflict?
12. As the twentieth century closed down with a remarkablerevolution in science and technology, we had some reason for optimism that the twenty-firstcentury would mark an era in which the energies of people and nations would becommitted to a rising prosperity that would eliminate, for the first time, thecurse of extreme poverty. That optimism has faded in the first fifteen years ofthis century. There is unprecedented turbulence across vast regions, withalarming increase in regional instabilities. The scourge of terrorism hasreshaped war into its most barbaric manifestation. No corner can now consideritself safe from this savage monster.
13. Terrorism is inspired by insane objectives, motivated bybottomless depths of hatred, instigated by puppeteers who have invested heavilyin havoc through the mass murder of innocents. This is war beyond any doctrine,a cancer which must be operated out with a firm scalpel. There is no good orbad terrorism; it is pure evil.
14. Nations will never agree on everything; but the challengetoday is existential. Terrorists seek to undermine order by rejecting the verybasis of strategic stability, which are recognized borders. If outlaws are ableto unravel borders, then we are heading towards an age of chaos. There will bedisputes among nations; and, as is well-known, the closer we are to a neighbourthe higher the propensity for disputes. There is a civilized way to bridgedisagreement; dialogue, ideally, should be a continual engagement. But wecannot discuss peace under a shower of bullets.
15. We on our subcontinent have a historic opportunity to becomea beacon to the world at a time of great danger. We must attempt to resolve thecomplex edges of our emotional and geo-political inheritance with our neighboursthrough a peaceful dialogue, and invest in mutual prosperity by recognizingthat human beings are best defined by a humane spirit, and not their worstinstincts. Our example can be its own message to a world in anxious need ofamity.
16. Each of us has the right to lead a healthy, happy andproductive life in India. This right has been breached, especially in ourcities, where pollution has reached alarming levels. Climate change hasacquired real meaning with 2015 turning out to be the warmest year on record.Multiple strategies and action at various levels is necessary. Innovativesolutions of urban planning, use of clean energy, and changing the mindsets ofthe people call for active participation of all stakeholders. Permanence ofsuch changes can be ensured only if people own these changes.
17. Love for one’s motherland is the basis of all progress.Education, with its enlightening effect, leads to human progress andprosperity. It helps us develop forces of spirit which can revive lost hopesand ignored values. Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan had said and I quote: “End-productof education should be a free creative man who can battle againsthistorical circumstances and adversities of nature” (unquote). The adventof the “Fourth Industrial Revolution” demands that this free and creative manshould also be able to master the velocity of change to absorb disruptionswhich are getting embedded in the systems and societies. An eco-system thatfosters critical thinking and makes teaching intellectually stimulating isnecessary. It must inspire scholarship and encourage unfettered respect forknowledge and teachers. It must instill a spirit of reverence towards womenthat will guide social conduct of an individual throughout his life. It mustbreed a culture of deep thought and create an environment of contemplation and innerpeace. Through an open-minded approach to the wider spectrum of ideas emanatingfrom within, our academic institutions must become world-class. A beginning hasalready been made with two Indian institutes of higher education finding placein the top two hundred in international rankings.
18. The generational change hashappened. Youth have moved centre-stage to take charge. March ahead withTagore’s words from Nutan Yuger Bhore:
“CHOLAAY CHOLAAY BAAJBEY JOYER BHEREE –
PAAYER BEGEYI POTH KETEY JAAY, KORISH NEY AARDERI”
Move ahead, the roll of drums announce yourtriumphal march;
With feet of glory, you shall cut out your ownpath;
Delay not, delay not, a new age dawns.